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Newest Councilmember Unopposed, Four Other Incumbents Face Crowded Ballot

Bob Kronovetrealty
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Santa Monica

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By Jorge Casuso

August 12, 2020 -- Newly appointed City Councilmember Kristin McCowan will run unopposed in the race for a two-year seat, while the four other incumbents will face 17 challengers.

Council incumbents Gleam Davis, Ana Jara, Terry O'Day and Ted Winterer will run on November 3 for four open seats with four-year terms, according to the City Clerk, which posted the final list of candidates Tuesday evening.

McCowan, who was appointed to the Council last month to replace Greg Morena, will serve the remainder of his term after two potential candidates withdrew from the race and a third failed to qualify.

School Board member Oscar de la Torre, who pulled papers for both races, opted not to oppose McCowan and seek a four-year seat.

"Kristin is my next door neighbor, and my policy is to keep the peace with my neighbors," said de la Torre. "She's an African-American and a mother, and we need her perspective on the City Council."

In addition to de la Torre, other top challengers for the four-year seat are Phil Brock, who finished a close fourth in the 2014 race for three council seats; Planning Commissioner Mario Fonda-Bonardi and Dominic Gomez, a former member of the Community Compensation Advisory Committee.

Other candidates who qualified for the four-year Council seat are Merviendo Andika, Andrew Browning, Tom Ciszek, John Patrick Jewell, Nathaniel I. Jones, Jr., Andrew Kamm and Jonn Mann, who is making a record 14th Council bid.

Also qualifying for the ballot were Chip Martin, Todd Mentch, Marcus Owens, Christine Parra, Ann-Marie Slack and Zoe Muntaner, who finished last in the 2014 Council race.

The crowded Council ballot comes after nearly 120 Santa Monica residents applied for the seat vacated by Morena ("Nearly 120 Applicants Seek Appointment to Vacant Council Seat," July 7, 2020).

Morena resigned in June after learning his position on the Council barred him from renegotiating his restaurant lease with the City ("Morena to Resign from City Council," June 17, 2020).

McCowan became the fourth member of the Council to be initially appointed and not elected.

Councilmembers Gleam Davis and Terry O'Day were appointed in 2009 and 2010 respectively to replace longtime Council members who died in office.

Jara was appointed in January 2019 to serve the remainder of former Council member Tony Vazquez's term after he was elected to the State Board of Equalization.

This year's crowded Council ballot comes after the City decided to lower the number of signatures of local registered voters required to run -- from 100 to 30 due to the coronavirus emergency.

The 2018 Council ballot had only seven candidates, the fewest in at least the past 30 years.

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